Friday, May 28, 2010

Book Review: Faithful, but Not Famous

Young Claude Leclerc leaves his widowed mother and two sisters in southern France and travels to Paris to begin his training for the priesthood, but he is not sure what he believes about God. One day he learns the words to an old hymn and is drawn to the lines about “David’s Royal Fountain” that will “purge every sin away.” Claude yearns to find this fountain, and at last dares to ask the famous Dr. Lefèvre where he can find it. His question leads Dr. Lefèvre to set aside his study of the saints and study the Scriptures in earnest. As Dr. Lefèvre grasps the wonderful truth of salvation by grace, he wants to share it with the young student, but Claude has mysteriously disappeared. Through the efforts of Dr. Lefèvre, and his young associate, Guillaume Farel, many learn the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and great hope is born that a true Reformation is beginning in France that will spread to the entire world.

Faithful, but Not Famous by Emma Leslie narrates the beginnings of the Protestant Reformation in France. While many names associated with the Reformation are familiar to us, this book introduces us to some people living through this tumultuous time period who were faithful, but not famous. According to the book’s preface, “The main events and the principal characters of the story are strictly historical. The minor details have been introduced, not merely for the sake of effect, but with the object of presenting a true and faithful picture of the manners, customs, and state of feeling in France at the time.

The book was helpful to me in explaining the mindset of the average French churchgoer during this time period. This was a culture with a strong class mentality and identity. Many of the common people could not read and only the Church leadership was taught Latin, which is what was spoken in the church services at the time. Even though the common people may not have understood (or believed) what the Church was teaching, they blindly followed because they were taught that the Church was responsible for saving their souls.

It is so encouraging to see the effect on each character as the light of the gospel penetrates their hearts and transforms their lives. Once they learned the truth that only Christ can forgive sins, they could not be silent. Being faithful cost some of them dearly, but still they were faithful.

There are many good lessons to be learned from this book and I highly recommend it for adults and older teens. Because of some of the violence alluded to, especially in the final chapters, parents may want to pre-read before giving it to younger readers.

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